Tube Talk: TV remembers Sept. 11 — 10 years later

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Most Americans can still picture the first tower collapsing, then the second. It seemed impossible that the massive twin towers could be crumbling before the nation’s eyes. It was equally unfathomable to think the Pentagon — a symbol of our country’s strength — could be damaged by a third jetliner. Hearing that United Airlines’ flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field added to the grief, but offered a slight relief because it didn’t hit a heavily-populated area.

No matter where you were that day, chances are you saw some of those events unfold in real time on TV. If not, you certainly saw the aftermath. Virtually all television channels — broadcast and cable — either had live coverage or blank screens that day, and the next. We were hoping and praying for survivors to be pulled from the carnage at Ground Zero. Some of us were afraid there might be yet another attack. We were a nation stunned by the horror of it all and paralyzed with grief. Nothing would ever be the same.

Today, it’s difficult to remember life before phrases like “Ground Zero” and “9/11” were part of the American lexicon, or when people could board commercial flights without too much fuss. For most of us, life has gone back to normal, but for those directly impacted by the events of 9/11, things will never feel entirely normal again. For the sake of those who perished, and their survivors, we need to remember the events of that day.

Over the next few days, you can turn on almost any channel and find tribute and retrospectives about 9/11. Here are but a few:

CBS has a two-hour special, 9/11: 10 Years Later, airing Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. It’s an update of a 2002 documentary.

CNN has a couple of specials, Beyond Bravery — The Women of 9/11 (10 p.m., Sept. 8, and 8 p.m., Sept. 11) and Terror in the Dust (10 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8 p.m. Sept. 10). Fox News has 9/11: Timeline of Terror (9 p.m., Sept. 9, and 7 p.m., Sept. 11). History has a potentially gut-wrenching special, Voices From Inside the Towers (8 p.m., Sept. 10), based on phone calls made or received by people in the World Trade Center Towers as the harrowing events unfolded.

Sept. 10 at 8 p.m., Showtime airs a documentary, The Love We Make, chronicling Paul McCartney’s efforts to arrange a 9/11 benefit concert. Music lovers also might enjoy PBS’ Great Performances episode showcasing the New York Philharmonic’s 10th Anniversary Concert for 9/11, airing Sept. 11 (8 p.m. on WHA-Madison and WTTW-Chicago, immediately after the 7 p.m. special, America Remembers: 9/11).

Other shows are looking toward the future. PBS has a special episode of Nova, “Engineering Ground Zero” (8 p.m. on WHA-Madison and at 9 p.m. on WTTW-Chicago Sept. 7), which looks at the rebuilding of Ground Zero. History has a special about the construction of Ground Zero’s “Reflecting Absence” memorial called Making the 9/11 Memorial (7 p.m., Sept. 11).

This is, by no means, a complete list of specials marking the somber occasion. Channels from A&E to USA are commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with documentaries, movies and other original programming.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the Sept. 7-13, 2011, issue

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